The European Union (EU) will spend €150 million (N50 billion) on development of the power sector in Nigeria, Michel Arrion, the ambassador and head of EU Delegation to Nigeria, said yesterday.
Arrion spoke at the fifth Edition of the EU-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNIBF) pre-event briefing in Lagos.
He said the grant would be used mainly for training young engineers and funding some technical aspects of the sector.
According to him, the EU is collaborating with the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) to inject young engineers into the sector.
Arrion described the energy sector as an important aspect of the economy, saying that nothing would work well if the sector was not adequately funded.
“The EU is already financing a transmission project in Katsina State and we have spent over €5 million, about N1.6 billion, on it,’’ he said.
Arrion said the business forum would focus on creating opportunities for EU and Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to create their businesses through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
“We want to identify opportunities in the textile value chain and proffer options for accessing long term finance for the critical power sector in Nigeria.
“The Fifth EUNIBF has been designed to discuss business opportunities and address bottlenecks to investments, particularly in the power sector.
“We will focus on diversification of the economy through SMEs,” he said.
The Counsellor, Head of Trade and Economics Section of EU, Filippo Amato, said EU granted over €750 million to Nigeria between 2008 and 2013.
Amato said €512 million had been spent from 2015 till date.
In 2014 alone, Nigeria’s total trade with the EU stood at €39 billion, with the EU accounting for 31 per cent of Nigeria’s total trade.
Amato said the investment stock in Nigeria grew from €23.8 billion in 2013 to €25.3 billion in 2014.
He said, however, with the fall in oil prices, EU-Nigeria trade declined by 26.7 per cent to €29billion in 2015.
“Nigerian exports to EU declined by 35 per cent while imports declined by seven per cent over the period.
“Unfortunately, about 97 per cent of exports to the EU are oil and gas.
To reverse this trend, he said the Fifth EUNBF aims to strengthen the EU-Nigeria business relations through identification of opportunities in the global textile value chain; expose Nigerian SMEs to opportunities in the EU market through the platform of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and explore the financing options available for funding of the power sector and diversifying the energy mix in the country.